Esteemed political science professor, pair of Auburn students receive prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Published: April 05, 2021
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A highly esteemed Auburn University professor and a pair of exemplary students have been selected as the 2021 recipients of the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

Political Science Professor Steven Brown and College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM, students William Illiano and Meredith Sylvia are this year’s recipients of the award, which is given annually by the university to individuals who embody high qualities and nobility of character. Brown is the Morris Savage Endowed Chair for the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts, or CLA, while Illiano is a biomedical sciences major and Sylvia is majoring in organismal biology.

Brown—an Auburn professor since 1998—recently won the Award for Excellence in Faculty Outreach as part of Auburn’s 2020 Faculty Awards. He is an expert in everything from constitutional law and church-and-state issues to the Supreme Court and American legal history, and Brown was the inaugural recipient of the Auburn University Parents Association’s Faculty Award in 2018.

Illiano, an Honors College member, has been awarded the Spirit of Auburn Presidential scholarship, served as president of Campus Kitchens and performed as an alto saxophonist in the Auburn University Marching Band and saxophone jazz band. Sylvia was a standout four-year member of the Auburn gymnastics team, was named to the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll from 2018-20 and served as a research volunteer in Placencia, Belize, where she surveyed local reefs and helped extract invasive lionfish.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award has been presented at Auburn since 1951 as a reminder of the noblest human qualities exemplified by Algernon Sydney Sullivan, a prominent humanitarian and first president of the New York Southern Society, now the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation. Each year, Auburn bestows the honor on one male and one female student from the graduating class and this year also will honor Brown as an exemplary faculty member.

Brown is a National Society of Collegiate Scholars Faculty of the Year Award recipient, is heavily involved in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI, as an instructor and guest lecturer and is an award-winning writer who has been published regularly since 2002. He received the National Communication Association’s Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression in 2005 for his book, “Trumping Religion: The New Christian Right, The Free Speech Clause and the Courts.”

Brown’s article, “The Girard Will and Twin Landmarks of Supreme Court History,” received the Supreme Court Historical Society’s 2017 Hughes-Gossett Senior Prize, which was awarded by Chief Justice John Roberts. Earlier this year, Brown’s book, “Alabama Justice: The Cases and Faces That Changed a Nation,” the companion book to his award-winning traveling exhibition, was awarded the Anne B. and James B. McMillian Prize in Southern History, and the exhibit was named a finalist for the 2020 Silver Gavel Award for Media and the Arts by the American Bar Association.

Illiano, of Fairhope, Alabama, has participated in a National Institutes of Health-funded study investigating racial disparities in health and sleep and has made the Dean’s List every semester since fall 2017. After graduation, he will become part of the Class of 2025 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.

Sylvia, of Macungie, Pennsylvania, has dedicated herself to helping younger students by participating in Our House—a program that helps middle school students and provides encouragement and positive behavior for learning. After graduation, Sylvia plans to earn a Master of Arts in teaching and become a middle school science teacher.

In addition, Lauryn Malone has been selected to receive the W. James Samford Jr. ’72 Memorial Scholarship. The award is named in memory of James Samford, a 1972 Auburn alumnus and member of the Auburn Board of Trustees from 1987 until his death in 2003. Malone, of Huntsville, Alabama, has received the COSAM Office of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Student Excellence Award, has served as vice president of outreach and director of academic success for the Black Student Union and been named Resident Assistant of the Month.

Malone, a biomedical sciences and pre-pharmacy major, also has strengthened the academic proficiency and career development of underrepresented students in the health care field through the Summer Health Professional Education Program at Howard University. After graduation, she plans to attend the Harrison School of Pharmacy to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy.

The President's Award and W. James Samford Jr. Foundation Award recognizes one graduate in each school or college who has completed at least three semesters at Auburn with a minimum grade-point average of 3.40 and possesses outstanding qualities of leadership, citizenship, character and promise of professional ability.

This year’s President’s Award honorees are:

Micah Owen Bartlett, College of Agriculture

Kyra Wesche, College of Architecture, Design and Construction

Matthew Emery Russell, Raymond J. Harbert College of Business

Shelby Grace Bramblett, College of Education

Lindsey Elaine Waggoner, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

Robert James Sitze, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

Sumaiya Islam, Graduate School

Shannon Nicole Lucky, College of Human Sciences

Megan Richele Ondrizek, College of Liberal Arts

Jemesia Andrea Calloway, School of Nursing

Madeline Lynne Sheffield, Harrison School of Pharmacy

Victoria Susan Jiminez, College of Sciences and Mathematics

Mercedes Blythe Muldoon, College of Veterinary Medicine

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.